Two million people will be moving into the Bay Area between now and 2035! We must build all future housing in urban areas as Stack and Pack villages near or around mass transit or we will all surely perish from massive CO2 emissions. These stack and pack villages are referred to as “Sustainable Communities.” This fraudulent scare tactic was used in the recent ABAG/MTC (Association of Bay Area Governments/Metropolitan Transportation Commission) visioning workshops, referred to as “One Bay Area”.
Bay Area cities are not buying into it. With overstated statistics projecting huge population and unsubstantiated job growth the whole visioning process seems highly questionable. At least three cities (Berkeley, Pleasant Hill, and Alameda) are already balking at the numbers and statistics used in the Plan Bay Area IVS (Initial Visioning Scenario) calling them unrealistic and inflated.
In a letter to ABAG and MTC dated May 17th, 2011 from the Pleasant Hill City Council, (Ref. 1 below) the council stated “IVS assumes an unrealistic future household and employment growth for the City, particularly for our two Priority Development Areas (“PDAs”) inconsistent with the future land use pattern for these sites envisioned in the City’s General Plan.” The Pleasant Hill City Council also states “the density and intensity of development contemplated in the IVS for these areas far exceeds the planned or realistic capacity of the sites to accommodate further development.”
Pleasant Hill also states that the size of the PDAs to be developed have been overstated and that significant physical and regulatory constraints have not been taken into consideration. One of these areas is overstated by 915 units. The City’s plan calls for the building of 300 units, while the IVS plan calls for 1215.
Even the City of Berkeley’s Planning and Development Department has problems with the pie in the sky statistics used in the IVS plan. In their report, dated April 6th, 2011 the IVS population growth projected from 2010 to 2035 is 15,730+. However the City of Berkeley points out that “ABAG/MTC did not consult with City staff prior to representing these numbers”. (Ref. 2) The letter also states “the level of growth posited in the ABAG/MTC IVS exceeds what we feasibly can accommodate.”
The City of Alameda pointed out that the focus of IVS was clearly on housing and seriously lacked details about jobs and employment; “assumed growth in jobs seems to be overly optimistic, given historical trends. “ ABAG/MTC staff admitted that they had not adequately addressed jobs and employment in the IVS and stated that this would be done after the release of the IVS? Then there is “The assumption of unlimited resources for transit service to support the IVS scenario was clearly Utopian, especially in light of the current service-and budget-cutting trend amongst most of the Bay Area Transit operators.” Alameda mentions other inconsistencies, but then there are so many. (Ref 3.)
There are many flaws with the IVS. How can ABAG and MTC advocate with a straight face, a plan based solely on housing and transportation, with emphasis on high density housing and mass transit, without knowing where the jobs will be?
This IVS process is a boondoggle paid for by your tax dollars and clearly someone should be fired. The citizens of the Bay Area did not elect these people. The IVS process was commissioned by MTC and ABAG. These boards and committees are regional bodies with appointed members. The voters do not elect these members and have no say in who sits on these boards.
The regionalization of our Cities and Counties puts our local jurisdictions in peril. Regionalization allows unelected bodies to push regional (cookie cutter) solutions on our local municipalities based on unrealistic information and unfunded mandates. Our local City Councils will, if not vigilant, become irrelevant.
Where is this all coming from? It’s certainly not the general public. Are we locked in to a future of high density housing around mass transit hubs where single family residences and cars are a luxury that only the rich can afford, or do we have a real choice?
According to ABAG and MTC there is no alternative other than planning ALL future developments around this high-density model, which will increase congestion, pollution, housing costs and crime. They claim that this is required by two bills, SB375 and AB32.
The whole basis for the SCS (Sustainable Communities Strategy) is the elimination of greenhouse gasses (GHG) from cars. And somehow the answer to this problem is for everyone to give up their single family homes and move to urbanized stack and pack villages where cars will not be needed and people will work and shop all in the same place. Biking and walking to work or public mass transit will be the only option.
In order to achieve this high density housing and mass transit “Utopia” within existing urban boundaries many suburban towns will have to be converted into “stack and pack” project-style housing that will devastate the living standard and freedom of our citizens. This can only be achieved by employing coercive local policies like; eminent domain, shrinking urban growth boundaries and rezoning. The goal of SB375 and AB32 is to use climate change to scare people into giving up their private property, standard of living and liberties. This change includes but is not limited to:
– Transferring highway and gas tax money to mass transit projects
– Stopping any road improvements that would “compete” with Bart.
– “Housing development”. LIMIT IT TO HIGH DENSITY AREA near Bart and local transit districts.
– Restrict building on private property by rezoning or shrinking the UGB (Urban Growth Boundary”
– Mandating “mixed use communities:” Government Stacked and Packed Housing
– Use Codes and Statues to penalize car usage
– Charge automobile owners more for parking and bridge tolls
– Convert “Freeways” to toll roads to subsidize mass transit
– Designate private property as blight so eminent domain can be exercised to redevelop the land.
In addition to One Bay Area’s overstated population and inflated job growth numbers they most glaringly left out any information about industry or local businesses that would be providing future employment to support this type of stack and pack plan. I guess their plan is “if you build it employers and jobs will magically appear.”
Also absent are any financial impacts associated with this new plan. The One Bay Area planners admittedly had no idea how much money it would cost to implement their plan or how the per person cost to subsidize and maintain a mass transit system that less than 3 percent of the population currently uses. What we have here is NO Plan at all. The IVS is a total waste of tax payer money and time.
Unbelievably ABAG and MTC paid consultants to come up with a vision that doesn’t come close to reality.
ABAG and MTC may be operating under the assumption that they have to make future plans for the Bay Area, but ultimately those plans affect individuals. Local Cities are fighting back as they should be because they know that these visions are not what their constituents want. A planned future, where all nine Bay Area Cities look the same is not a vision. It is a “Nightmare”. Local municipalities had better listen to their local citizens and not these regional agencies or they will quickly find themselves out of jobs.
Private property owners need to pay attention otherwise their property could become unusable due to rezoning, eminent domain or a change in the Urban Growth Boundary.
Unfortunately, many Bay Area elected officials are publicly sympathetic to this green agenda, even though in many cases the restraints and mandates of implementing the program would have a devastating impact on cities and counties’ general plans and budgets. A “Carrot and Stick” game is being played where municipalities that play ball are rewarded with huge government transportation fund handouts, while others are punished.
Privately, many of officials are not supportive or are downright worried—as they should be—about the negative impact the added regulations and unrealistic requirements would put on their communities as well as the overreaching power of these regional bodies.
What many don’t know is that SCS is one of a number of global initiatives from the United Nations Agenda for the 21st Century (aka Agenda21) (http://www.un.org/esa/agenda21/natlinfo/countr/usa/).
Agenda 21 mandates that there is to be NO ownership of private property worldwide. The U.N. believes that all land, watershed systems, and natural resources must be owned and administered by government. Agenda 21 seeks to abolish private property, control education at every level, control and reduce population, and redistribute the wealth both nationally and globally to establish social equity.